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Planned Parenthood of Utah appeals US judge’s decision allowing state to cut federal funding – Canadian Business – Your Source For Business News


SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah chapter of Planned Parenthood has appealed a U.S. judge’s ruling that allows the Republican governor to cut off federal funding to the organization.

The Planned Parenthood Association of Utah filed a notice Sunday asking the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver to block Gov. Gary Herbert’s order cutting off the money.

A federal judge in Utah declined last week to temporarily stop Herbert’s order while a Planned Parenthood lawsuit against the state moves forward. The group sued Utah in October after the governor decided to end $275,000 in contracts for sex education and sexually transmitted disease testing.

Utah is among a number of states that have moved to cut funding to the organization following the release of secretly recorded videos by an anti-abortion group showing Planned Parenthood officials in other states discussing fetal tissue from abortions.

Herbert has said he was offended by the callousness of the discussion shown on the videos.

Planned Parenthood has said it only recouped expenses for providing tissue to researchers, and the videos were heavily edited. The videos spawned multiple investigations by Congress and several states but none has shown Planned Parenthood broke any law.

Planned Parenthood has sued Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana and other states to stop them from stripping them of contracts and federal money. In most other states, judges have ruled so far in Planned Parenthood’s favour, allowing the funds to keep flowing while the court cases continue.

But in Utah, U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups ruled last week that even though the state’s Planned Parenthood branch has done nothing wrong, it has associated with other Planned Parenthood entities accused of illegal activity. Utah has a right to avoid any appearance of corruption by ending the contracts, Waddoups said.

Karrie Galloway, CEO of the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah, said the judge’s ruling was regrettable. The organization has said Herbert acted in response to unproven allegations and the move violated Planned Parenthood’s First Amendment right to advocate for or perform abortions.

The group’s attorneys have argued that stopping the money for STD and sex education programs would leave thousands of people at risk. State officials cited the same concerns in emails in the weeks before and after Herbert moved to block the money.

When asked to respond to the appeal, Herbert’s office reiterated Monday that the governor believes the ruling recognizes his ability to make contract decisions for the state.

Honest Tea: Trump quote was already being phased out from bottle caps – Canadian Business – Your Source For Business News


NEW YORK, N.Y. – Organic beverage maker Honest Tea says a Donald Trump quote is being removed from its bottle caps, but not because it has any problems with the leading Republican presidential candidate.

For years, the company has put quotes on the bottom of its bottle caps that it says are meant to be inspirational and thought-provoking. On Sunday, an Honest Tea customer tweeted an image of a cap that referenced the Republican presidential candidate: “If you’re going to think anyway, you might as well think big. Donald Trump.”

Paul Shapiro, who tweeted the image, said the quote jumped out at him.

“I usually don’t think of organic green tea consumers as target demographic for Donald Trump,” said Shapiro, who works for The Humane Society of the U.S.

Later, Honest Tea’s Twitter account responded to Shapiro, “We’re in the process of having his quotes removed from our caps,” with a smiley face at the end.

Seth Goldman, co-founder of Honest Tea, said the company had already been in the process of phasing out the Trump quote. When Honest Tea was acquired by Coca-Cola in 2011, Goldman said the world’s biggest beverage maker advised Honest Tea that there was less risk of offending people with quotes from people who have been dead for a while.

He said the company updates its rotation of quotes about every 18 months, and that the Trump quote was already slated for removal.

“There’s nothing objectionable to the thought,” Goldman said of the Trump quote.

Airline and airport workers who bypass security checkpoints are subject to additional scrutiny – Canadian Business – Your Source For Business News


NEW YORK, N.Y. – The Transportation Security Administration is increasing random checks of airport and airline employees who hold badges that enable them to bypass security checkpoints.

The decision follows instances in the past two years in which employees used restricted entrances to smuggle guns and launder money. It’s also part of a larger push to increase airport security after the Paris terrorist attacks and the crash of a jet flying between Egypt and Russia, believed to have been brought down by a bomb.

In a memo to employees this month, Jose Freig, American Airlines’ managing director of corporate security, wrote that “we anticipate the random screening process to increase throughout December and during the 2016 calendar year.”

TSA spokesman Bruce Anderson wouldn’t say how frequent the additional checks would become, but pointed to a Nov. 30 statement by Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh C. Johnson saying that since April, the department has “enhanced the continuous, random screening of airport/airline personnel in secure areas and encouraged U.S. airports to reduce employee access points.”

“The TSA Administrator and I have recently concluded that we need to double-down on these airport security efforts and will be consulting with airports and airlines to do so,” Johnson said.

The American memo, for instance, reminded employees that if they work in a secure area and plan to travel after their shift is over, they must exit the sterile area and go through TSA screening, with their carry-on luggage, in order to board a flight.

Thousands of U.S. airport workers are permitted to skip security lines after undergoing a background check and obtaining a Security Identification Display Area (SIDA) badge. The system is designed to free up staff at passenger checkpoints and to clear individuals who are considered a minimal security risk.

There have been instances, however, when that system has been exploited.

In December 2014, an Atlanta Delta Air Lines baggage handler was arrested, charged with using his security badge to bypass security and deliver guns to a smuggler on a number of occasions. A month later, a Federal Aviation Administration employee used his badge to bypass security for a flight from Atlanta to New York with a gun in his carry-on bag, though he was not authorized to carry a weapon.

And in May 2014, five airline employees were charged with using their security clearances to smuggle more than $400,000 in cash through Boston’s Logan Airport.


Follow Scott Mayerowitz at twitter.com/GlobeTrotScott. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/scott-mayerowitz

Beyond the pump: US oil price slide, layoffs weighing on housing markets after years of gains – Canadian Business – Your Source For Business News


There’s a dark side to those delightfully low gas prices: Housing markets are slumping in communities that were recently flush from the U.S. shale oil fracking boom.

Home sales are down sharply this year in North Dakota and the West Texas cities of Midland and Odesa. Home sales have also slowed in El Paso, and, more recently, in Houston.

The drilling boom, driven by high oil prices and new discoveries, brought tens of thousands of workers to oil fields in several states to run drilling rigs and supply the equipment and services needed to produce crude.

Then the price of oil tanked, plummeting by half in late 2014 and reaching levels this year not seen since the financial crisis. Oil companies abandoned drilling projects and began laying off workers.

Judge delays trial in former lottery official’s jackpot-fixing case until July – Canadian Business – Your Source For Business News


DES MOINES, Iowa – A judge has delayed the trial for a former lottery official accused of fixing jackpots in several states.

Former Multi-State Lottery Association security director Eddie Tipton had been scheduled to stand trial Jan. 6 in Des Moines.

But Tipton waived his right to a speedy trial last week, and his attorney asked for a delay. Judge Jeffrey Farrell last week reset the trial for July 18.

Tipton has pleaded not guilty to charges of ongoing criminal conduct and money laundering.

Prosecutors allege that he used his access to random number generators to fix jackpots in Colorado, Wisconsin, Oklahoma and Kansas, and worked with associates to play winning numbers and collect prizes.

A jury in July convicted Tipton of fraud for fixing a $16.5 million Hot Lotto jackpot in Iowa.

Grain mixed, livestock lower – Canadian Business – Your Source For Business News


CHICAGO – Grain futures were mixed Tuesday in early trading on the Chicago Board of Trade.

Wheat for March delivery was 1.50 cents higher at $4.6820 a bushel; March corn was 1.50 cents lower at $3.5920 a bushel; March oats were 1.50 cents lower at $2.2220 a bushel; while March soybeans gained 3.50 cents to 8.65 a bushel.

Beef lower and pork were lower the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

February live cattle was .20 cent lower at $1.3635 a pound; March feeder cattle was .70 cent lower at $1.5828 a pound; February lean hogs was unchanged at $.5913 a pound.

Freeport-McMoRan chair and co-founder James Moffett with mining industry under siege – Canadian Business – Your Source For Business News


NEW YORK, N.Y. – James R. Moffett, the executive chairman and co-founder of the mining company Freeport-McMoRan, is stepping down as plunging commodity prices lead to mass layoffs across the entire industry.

The company is one of the world’s biggest producers of gold and copper, both of which have tumbled in value this year. Copper has plunged more than 26 per cent as signs of a significant slowdown in China grow clearer.

Activist investor Carl Icahn also revealed a large stake in the company recently. Icahn had pushed for cost cuts and came to an agreement with the company that put his affiliates on the board.

Shares of Freeport-McMoRan fell 61 cents, or 8.1 per cent, to $6.95 in midday trading.

Moffett, who helped form the company in 1969, will resign as chair and leave the board of directors Thursday.

Gerald J. Ford, the company’s lead independent director, will become non-executive chairman and Richard C. Adkerson continues as president and CEO.

During his over 50-year career in the natural resource industry, Jim Bob has become an icon as an explorationist,” Ford said.

Moffett, who goes by “Jim Bob,” has been the Freeport McMoRan Inc.’s executive chairman since 2003 and previously served as CEO from 1995 to 2003. Moffett and two associates founded McMoRan Oil & Gas Co. in 1969 and in 1981 led the effort to merge McMoRan Oil & Gas Co. and Freeport Minerals Co.

Moffett will receive $16.1 million in severance and continue to provide consulting services to the board for an annual fee of $1.5 million.

In August the Phoenix-based company announced plans to lower spending, cut production and cut about 10 per cent of its workforce in the wake of declining copper prices. Following that announcement, activist investor Carl Icahn disclosed that he bought a stake in the mining company and that he might seek representation on the board.

Valeant CEO on medical leave with pneumonia, company says – Canadian Business – Your Source For Business News


LAVAL, Que. – Embattled pharmaceutical firm Valeant International says its chief executive is taking a medical leave of absence.

The Quebec-based company previously revealed that Michael Pearson was hospitalized last week with what it described as a severe case of pneumonia.

Valeant (TSX:VRX) did not offer updates on Pearson’s condition, but says his leave of absence takes effect immediately.

Valeant says Pearson’s duties will be shared on an interim basis between General Council Robert Chai-Onn, Company Group Chairman Ari Kellen, and Chief Financial Officer Robert Rosiello.

Valeant has been facing a series of scandals that have slashed its stock price by more than half since record highs posted in August.

The company is facing a congressional investigation in the U.S. over its pricing practices and has been forced to revise its 2016 outlook after ending a drug distribution agreement with the controversial Philidor mail-order pharmacy.

Pearson himself had been facing criticism for Valeant’s share price collapse and recently struck a defiant tone after calls for his dismissal surfaced.

“If the board wants to fire me they are welcome to fire me, but until they do we’re going to get through this thing,” Pearson told investors during a Dec. 16 webcast.

Valeant said the October split from specialty pharmaceutical partner Philidor Rx Services caused a big short-term disruption to its business that would reduce its expectations for the fourth quarter and 2015 as a whole.

But Pearson had also indicated that a new distribution agreement with major U.S. drug store chain Walgreens had set the company back on the road to recovery.

Pearson, 56, joined Valeant in 2008 after a 23-year career with the consulting firm McKinsey & Co., for which he served as head of its global pharmaceutical practice.

He used a string of acquisitions to turn a relatively small business that made generic drugs and chronic illness treatments into a major pharmaceutical company. Valeant, formerly based in California, combined with Wellbutrin XL maker Biovail in 2010 to form Laval, Quebec-based Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. Its sales climbed from US$2.46 billion in 2011 to an expected US$10.4 billion to US$10.5 billion for this year.

Valeant shares closed at $157.68 on Thursday, the most recent day on which the Toronto Stock Exchange was open for trading.

That figure was well up from a 52-week low of $92.65 but well shy of a historic high of $347.84 in August.

— With Files from the Associated Press

Deutsche Bank sells stake in China’s Hua Xia Bank to Chinese insurer for up to $4 billion – Canadian Business – Your Source For Business News


BERLIN – Deutsche Bank says it has agreed to sell its stake in China’s Hua Xia Bank to a Chinese insurer in a deal worth between 23 billion and 25.7 billion yuan ($3.6 billion-$4 billion).

Deutsche Bank AG said in October that it no longer considered its 19.99 per cent stake in Hua Xia Bank strategic. Germany’s biggest bank announced Monday that it will sell the entire stake to PICC Property and Casualty Company Limited.

It said that the deal’s value will depend on “final price adjustment at closing” and the sale will have a positive financial impact.

Co-CEO John Cryan said that “now is the right time for us to sell this investment,” which dates back to 2006, but added that China remains a key growth market for Deutsche Bank.

Valeant CEO will take medical leave after being hospitalized with ‘severe’ pneumonia – Canadian Business – Your Source For Business News


NEW YORK, N.Y. – Valeant Pharmaceuticals CEO J. Michael Pearson is taking a medical leave of absence after he was hospitalized with pneumonia last week.

Shares of the troubled Canadian pharmaceutical company fell nearly 7 per cent in premarket trading Monday. Valeant says three executives will take over for Pearson in his absence.

A representative for Valeant said Monday that Pearson has a “severe case of pneumonia and is receiving treatment in the hospital.” The company declined to offer details on his condition or the expected length of his absence.

Valeant has recently come under scrutiny for its drug pricing policies, as well as its relationship with the mail-order pharmacy Philidor. Critics believe Philidor created a network of “phantom pharmacies” to steer pharmacy benefit managers toward Valeant’s more-expensive drugs, rather than to cheaper alternatives. Valeant cut ties with Philidor in October and later announced a distribution deal with the drugstore chain Walgreens for its dermatology and ophthalmology treatments.

Valeant earlier this month cut its expectations for the fourth quarter and all of 2015 and issued a guarded outlook for 2016 mainly due to lower sales.

Pearson, 56, joined Valeant in 2008 after a 23-year career with the consulting firm McKinsey & Co., for which he served as head of its global pharmaceutical practice.

He used a string of acquisitions to turn a relatively small business that made generic drugs and chronic illness treatments into a major pharmaceutical company. Valeant, formerly based in California, combined with Wellbutrin XL maker Biovail in 2010 to form Laval, Quebec-based Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. Its sales climbed from $2.46 billion in 2011 to an expected $10.4 billion to $10.5 billion for this year.

Valeant said Monday that the three executives taking over for Pearson will be Executive Vice-President and General Counsel Robert Chai-Onn, Executive Vice-President and Chairman Dr. Ari Kellen and Executive Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer Robert Rosiello.

Shares of Valeant fell 6.5 per cent to $ 106.68 before the market opened Monday. Its shares have fallen 30 per cent in just the past three months.